The Things That Must Happen First
Now it is Christ’s will to grow in us, gradually, gently, assimilating our lives to himself. There will be seasons in which we feel no stir of the life within us, see nothing but the earth’s hard crust. Then the daily conquest of sin will be as exacting as the daily pulling up of weeds that grow as fast as they are pulled.
Every honest Catholic knows how useless it sometimes feels to go on day after day finding the same sins cropping up in the examination of conscience, week after week confessing the same sins, the same number of times! He feels it is useless, but knows that he does it so that when at last the supernatural life pierces the hard ground, it will not be choked.
We shall sometimes be surrounded by forces that threaten the inward life, forces stronger than we are ourselves. But though only faith can convince us of this, they are not so strong as the unheard, unseen, unfelt, unimaginably sensitive Christ-life within us, that is stronger than the storming, parching, freezing, or blighting of any possible environment.
We must not abandon the struggle that the secret growing demands, or doubt its purpose; the getting up early on dark mornings for Mass when our presence at Mass has become only a losing fight with distractions, the offering of our daily work to form Christ in us when the monotony of our daily work makes it seem incapable of any meaning at all.
But neither must we refuse the slumber, the repose of the winter time of growth, the stillness, the silence, the acceptance of the times set by God, God’s law of growth, the contented folding of our life upon the hidden life within us. It is in these mysterious winters of the Spirit that we must learn patience with ourselves. Not complacency, but the humility based on self-knowledge, which is not surprised if there is little if any outward change, because what change there is is in the inward increase of Christ, and that God sees, but people do not.